John Bales

Obituary of John Bales

John Foster Bales, II, age 100, died on June 3 at Meadow Lakes, a retirement community in Hightstown, New Jersey surrounded by his family. A strong and thoughtful man with a wonderful common touch, quick wit and gracious manner, he spent his life fully engaged in the lives of others, and he left an indelible impact on his family and many friends and on his wide range of community and business interests. At the height of his business career, Mr. Bales served as Chairman and President of Yardley of London, Inc., headquartered in New York City, and was the architect of the "London Look" which swept the cosmetic industry in the 1960s, capitalizing on the British invasion of fashion and popular music into the United States during that period. Born in the farming community of Circleville, Ohio on January 5, 1911, the younger of two children of Robert Rea Bales and Minnie Westenhaver Bales, Mr. Bales graduated from Circleville High School and Lake Forest Academy, and then graduated Magna Cum Laude from Princeton University in 1934 where he starred as an All-American tail back on the Princeton University undefeated National Champion football team of 1933. After his college graduation, Mr. Bales joined the Prophylactic Brush Company as a junior sales trainee and traveled through the South during the Depression selling tooth and hair brushes to drug stores. In 1938, he met and married Jean Torrence from Xenia, Ohio, beginning a long and mutually-devoted relationship. In 1944, he was hired by Johnson & Johnson as the Director of their Tek Division and rose to the position of Executive Vice President of its Tek-Hughes subsidiary. He joined Yardley of London as Vice President of Sales and Marketing in 1949 and over the next 20 years assumed various positions of increased responsibility, retiring in June 1969 as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. After his business career, Mr. Bales immersed himself in community affairs. For many years he served as a Trustee and Vice President of the Princeton Public Library and as President of the Friends of the Library. He was an active member of the Nassau Club of Princeton where he served as its Treasurer for 17 years and as its President from 1992 to 1994. He was also active in Princeton University Alumni affairs, serving as his class president from 1974 to 1979 and receiving the "Outstanding Achievement Award" of his Class in 1981. He was Vice Chairman and Secretary of the Friends of Princeton Football for many years, and from 1983 until 1996 Mr. Bales served as Director of the Class of 1934 Special Assistance Fund for Princeton Undergraduates. Mr. Bales is survived by his three children, John Foster Bales, III, Robert Torrence Bales and Richard Findley Bales, all living in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Katharine Torrence Cerow of New Canaan, Connecticut and by seven grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. His wife of 65 years, Jean Torrence Bales, predeceased him in 2003. A memorial service will be held time and place to be determined at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in his memory to Princeton University. Arrangements are under the direction of the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton
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